Chicago Mayer Rahm Emanuel is going after Uber and Lyft, the super-convenient, app-based car services that pick you up when you need a ride. These car sharing networks represent a logical evolution of taxi services in the internet age, so it was only a matter of time before Emanuel and the Democrats went after them, as they have in other cities like Washington, D.C. Jacob Huebert of the LIberty Justice Center, in a piece published by the Illinois Policy Institute, takes a point-by-point look at the anti-competitive legislation proposed by the mayor.
Let me tell you, I use Uber regularly, often to call a taxi or more often these days, to call an UberX car if one is available. The taxi service side of Uber is convenient and it seems like a good way for cabbies to enhance the number of fares they pick up. The private car side of Uber is even better: without fail, literally every time I have ridden in an UberX car, the ride has been as good or better than the ride I get in normal taxis around town. The cars are always clean and sometimes very nice (like the time three friends and I were picked up in a black Mercedes for a ride to a coffee shop), the drivers are kind and courteous, and and top of all that, it’s often cheaper than a regular taxi.
I’ve talked with some taxi drivers about Uber, and have heard some complaints. In fairness to them, it’s true that there is probably not a level playing field when it comes to the traditional taxi industry and its newer, nimbler competitors. The solution to that is not to hamstring Uber, Hail-O and other future transportation network services, but rather deregulate the taxi industry! Open things up and let everybody compete on a level-playing field in a way that’s good for competition and good for the consumer.
According to Wikipedia, the last major innovation in the taxi cab industry was thirty years ago, in the 1980s, with the advent of computer assisted dispatching. Before that it was the two-way radio, introduced in the 1940s. Isn’t it about time for a little more transformation and progress?
Uber, et al, have harnessed the disruptive technology of the smart phone that puts the internet in everybody’s pocket, to give us a lift from Point A to Point B in the physical world around us. Only in a deluded mind would threatening that be worthy of the label Progressive.